Olavi Louhivuori is known as the leader of his successful group Oddarrang, plus as the go-to drummer for the likes of Tomasz Stanko, Susanne Abbuehl, Claudio Filippini and Mats Eilertsen. In 2018, he premiered his new major work ‘Net Of Indra’ with Nordic legends Eivind Loenning, Juhani Aaltonen and Palle Danielsson. Louhivuori has also released music as a solo artist on the influential Finnish label Svart Records under the title ‘Immediate Music’. Louhivuori is also a leader of the group Superposition which features some of the most ear-worthy musical talent in the buzzing Finnish scene. Superposition’s debut album will be released on We Jazz Records in March 2020.
1: The moon gets further away from the Earth with the same speed as our nails grow.
2: Paul McCartney was only 28 years old when The Beatles had their break-up.
3: Human consciousness is a mystery. Nobody knows who or what we are.
1. What is the biggest inspiration for your music?
I think the inspiration changes all the time. When composing, a lot of times the inspiration comes from the feelings of that specific moment. I’ve noticed that especially when feeling sad or melancholic, composing becomes a very helpful way of channeling those feelings. I get also lots of inspiration from art: music, paintings, architecture, cinema etc. Silence is also a big influencer. Silence can work as a canvas – a starting point for ideas to emerge from the unconsciousness.
2. How and when did you get into making music?
I was born into a musical family. My mom plays violin and my dad is a professor at the music university. Actually, almost my whole family, especially from my mother’s side, is quite strongly involved in music. I have four siblings who are all musicians, and lots of cousins who all work in the music field. So I think music came to my life from mothers-milk. I played violin a little bit when I was 3 years old. Then I changed to cello when I was about 6. Eventually I got into drums when I was around 10.
3. What are 5 of your favourite albums of all time?
This is a hard one since my favourite albums seem to change and vary quite a lot depending on my current life-situation. But to pick five albums that have definitely influenced me I would say:
John Coltrane – A Love Supreme
Jim O’Rourke – Eureka
Jeff Buckley – Grace
Radiohead – Kid A
Miles Davis – My Funny Valentine + Four & More (Live at the Lincoln Center 1964)
4. What do you associate with Berlin?
Berlin is a very special city for me. I’ve never lived there but I’ve visited the city quite frequently during the last 20 years. It has always been a true melting pot of different cultures, people, ideas etc. The feeling of the “free spirit” in the city is very inspirational and unique. I’ve noticed that the atmosphere has changed quite a lot in the last years. Prices are getting higher, it’s getting cleaner and the “anarchistic” element of the city and its people don’t feel as active and immediate as it felt before. Nevertheless, it is one of my favourite cities in the world, and I always feel a special kind of excitement and inspiration when I get there.
5. What’s your favourite place in your town?
I was born in Jyväskylä, in central Finland, surrounded by lakes and nature. I’ve lived in Helsinki for almost 20 years now, so it has naturally become a second home for me. I love Helsinki a lot. My favourite “place” is definitely the sea. I have a sailing boat and it has become one of the best ways for me to get rid of my daily worries and stress. It really does empty my mind. The sea is very strongly present in the city, so also just cycling along the coast of the city is one of the best ways to spend a day.
6. If there was no music in the world, what would you do instead?
World without music is quite impossible for me to imagine. But if I wasn’t making music, I think it would be some other form of self-expression. I love cinema as an art form, so being a director could be one possibility. I also read a lot, so if I had the skills I might be a writer. One possibility could also be a sailor. Sailing around the world with my sailing boat. Or then I would just be somewhere in the woods chopping wood, carrying water, wandering in the woods, listening to the nature.
7. What was the last record/music you bought?
Last week I paid a visit to the flea market to look for some used LPs and found three albums: Paul Simon’s ‘The Rhythm Of The Saints’, Egberto Gismonti’s ‘Solo’ and The Flying Lizards’ ‘Fourth Wall’.
8. Who would you most like to collaborate with?
Hmm… this is a tricky one. There are so many. If there was a time-machine, I’d like to “collaborate” with F. Nietzsche and/or C.G. Jung. Would be quite amazing (and terrifying!) to have a possibility to sit down with these men and hear their thoughts about music and life. But if I think a bit more seriously, it would be amazing to have a chance to work with Björk and get to hear her thoughts and see her way of working and creating. It would also be amazing to get to collaborate with Rick Rubin and experience his working methods as a producer.
9. What was your best gig (as performer or spectator)?
I think the most unforgettable experiences for me has been the concerts I did with Tomasz Stanko. I could say that basically all the gigs we did (during 2009-2017) were moments of my life that I will never forget. From the audience, I have to say that seeing Rage Against the Machine in 1996 (when I was 15) was a complete shock for me – in the most positive way. The band was in its greatest strength at the time, they had just released Evil Empire and came to Finland just on the edge of becoming global superstars. We were in the front row and the energy of the music was so immense I had to ask for the security to lift me over the front-edge because of the pressure from the audience. Despite that, it stays in my mind as one of the greatest concerts I’ve ever witnessed in my life.
10. How important is technology to your creative process?
I’ve used computers when making music almost my whole life. I started with a teacher already in 1992 at my dad’s working place (Jyväskylä University), where we used the first computer software that were available back then. Lately I’ve used a lot of programming, recording, sampling etc. especially when working with my solo projects ‘(Inhale-Exhale’, 2008, ‘Existence’, 2014). The music of my solo albums is quite heavily influenced by electronic music, but I have used only the sounds of “real” drums and organic percussion instruments on these albums. Everything is just very much processed. I’m in the process of making the third solo album. I use Ableton Live and a variety of old samplers and synths.
11. Do you have siblings and how do they feel about your career/art?
Yes, I have four siblings, one younger brother, two younger sisters and one older sister. We are all professional musicians, so we all encourage each other and sometimes also work together. We had a band called Sun Trio with my brother Kalevi on trumpet and bassist Antti Lötjönen. We released four albums for Italian label Cam Jazz.
Photo © Tero Ahonen